Clavichord on the Nullabor

April 1992
Copyright © 2007 CBH
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Australia map: Nullabor Plain 11K jpeg
Slightly left of centre of the Great Australian Bight on Australia’s south coast, you’ll find the Nullabor Plain. While there are no trees (hence its name, often sometimes unofficially Aboriginalized in spelling, like I’ve done here), it is not a desert. There is abundant vegetation of the low salt bush type, with waxy leaves well suited to the low rainfall, and a surprizing amount of wildlife.

Australia is a large island. The entire transcontinental trip from Sydney to Perth takes a good four and a half days by road, or three comfortable but solid days if you begin driving just from Adelaide in South Australia. A little west of the Nullabor is the longest straight stretch of bitumen in the world. The road has been fully sealed since the mid 1970s, and runs close to the 100m cliffs of the Southern Ocean near the Western Australia / South Australia border. There once was a settlement called Eucla nearby: All that remains now are a few pylons and planks of the old wharf from where they used to ship camels, and the chimney of the old overland telegraph station, the rest of the building buried in the shifting sands.

You don’t have to drive, of course. One of the great remaining rail journeys of the world is undoubtedly the Indian-Pacific. The railway line runs a hundred kilometres north of the road over the Nullabor, and traverses a much drier part of the country.

There’s not much in the way of civilization to be found between Adelaide and Perth on the trip by road. Except a lonesome clavichord…

Clavichord on the Nullabor 42K jpeg

Triple-fretted Clavichord, Carey Beebe • MCMXC
On location, western limit of the Nullabor Plain, South Australia, April 1992

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